Under new amnesty laws, two members of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot were released from Russian prisons on Monday, about three months ahead of schedule. In keeping with their general "Fuck Putin" stance, the women slammed the move as a "PR move" designed to make Putin look compassionate.
"We didn't ask for any pardon. I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don't need mercy from Putin," Maria Alyokhina told the New York Times after her release. "I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans But I don't consider this humane or merciful. This is a lie."
Alyokhina also told a Russian TV channel that the amnesty was a "hoax" and "PR move" that applied to less than 10 percent of the prison population. Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikov received the amnesty because both have small children.
Alyokhina was released from a prison in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod, and Tolokonnikov, who earlier this year went "missing," was released from a prison in Siberia. A third jailed Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina "Katya" Samutsevich, was set free in October 2012 after winning her appeal.
The trio was arrested and jailed in March 2012 on charges of hooliganism after staging an anti-Putin "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. After about seven months, during which time the trio was imprisoned without adequate rest or food, the women were convicted and sentenced to two years. The prolonged imprisonment and harsh sentence—for a 30-second protest—generated international headlines and support from musicians, artists, and world leaders.
Last Thursday, Putin granted amnesty to Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia's richest man and a rival of Putin's. Khodorkovsky, who has been imprisoned—under suspect charges—since 2003, was released from prison later that night.
[Image via AP]